Page 4 of Stephen Paul Travel Blog Posts

The weekend before I was to have surgery, I decided to go on one last backpacking trip. Honestly I didn't know if I would ever be able to go backpacking again. What if the cancer had penetrated the bladder wall, spread to the lymph nodes and required serious treatment? I might need my bladder removed completely, or perhaps radiation therapy, chemotherapy and more surgeries. My future was uncertain, so I decided it best to forget about everything and go to church- The High Sierra Nevada Mountains. Instinct told me the best place to go was the tallest and most pristine part of the Sierra's- Sequoia National Park. The road we took was treacherous, the drive was horrendously long- it took 2 hours to go 30 miles. The Valley we visited has been deforested by the mining ... read more
Western Juniper(Juniperus occidentalis)
Mimulus guttatus, "Seep Spring Monkeyflower"
Mt Florence

Many people believe Mt. Shasta has supernatural powers, from the Native Americans known as the Shasta to the multitude of residents that make their home near the volcano today. Adherents to Hinduism, New Age beliefs and Buddhist monks are drawn to the volcano's serenity and imposing presence. So are outdoor enthusiasts, because at 14,200 feet Shasta is the 2nd largest volcano in the Cascades- so high most of the time is creates its own weather. The Japanese religion of Shugendo, Lao Tsu and Hinduism all had it right- this mountain, like many other striking skyscrapers of stone, has some sort of spiritual energy that is hard to describe. I find anything on earth described as "Super-Natural" hard to swallow, as the separation between the spiritual and the physical realm is a western concept I have long ... read more
Mt. Shasta, horses
McArthur-Burney Falls, ferns
Subway Cave

North America » United States » Oregon » Bend July 22nd 2007

When I finally left Crater Lake on thursday night, twilight bathed the forest and peaks in a calm blue light. After some curves through the forest, the road made an abrupt right turn. Ahead of me was 30 km of a downhill and lonely road, which I proceeded to test the maximum speed of my VW Golf yet again. 180 km/h was the maximum velocity, which had to save me at least 4 minutes on the 3 hour drive! For over 140,000 miles across the great American West this car has travelled, yet still it performed. I chain smoked cigarettes, burned through one after another like each one I smoked got me closer to enlightenment. I was exhausted and hungry by the time I got to Bend, but that didn't stop me from going to a ... read more
Obsidian Tree, Newberry Crater
Broken Top Mountain
Terminal Face of the Obsidian Flow

North America » United States » Oregon » Crater Lake July 20th 2007

After Stewart Springs, I ventured through the remaining miles of California. This is where a simple idea such as a "road trip" turns into something very different, where whole governments and people change while the landscape remains the same. It was almost like going uphill, the dry and expansive Pacific Coast I know in California became intimate and lush. The terrain was defined by forested hills and large but distant volcanos. My destination? The mythical National Park of Crater Lake. Crater Lake is easy to understand. Imagine a massive volcano much like Mt. Ranier- 4000 meters high and covered with glaciers- violently exploding. The hollow foundation of the giant then fills with the abundant snow of the North American Pacific Coast. Sheer 600 meter cliffs ring the surface of the lake, which is 1800 meters high. ... read more
Crater Lake Rim, Phantom Ship
White Pine Sunset
Fields of Gold

Lassen National Park. The name's not very familiar is it? It wasn't to me either. A park isolated by spectacular surroundings in Northern California where the Sierra Nevada end and the Cascades begin, Lassen is about halfway between Lake Tahoe and Mt. Shasta. My impressions of the park before I visited were a bit unimpressive. But within 5 minutes of passing through the Park Service gate, I knew I was visiting the most underestimated National Park in California. With a week off work, I was on my way to visit friends in Bend, Oregon. Having never visited the Pacific Crest north of Lake Tahoe, I was eager to discover its volcanic treasures! Especially considering of all the places in the Pacific Coast of North America, The area from lassen to Mt. Ranier is the one that ... read more
Douglas Fir and Shadow Lake
Lassen Volcano- Dangerous Curve!
White Pine Berries

It's hard to refuse 4 days and 4 nights of SCUBA diving the warm water of California's southern Channel Islands. Being a live-aboard ship, all food and accomodations are taken care of. The only thing we had to worry about is how many dives to do per day, 2, 3 or 4? Exactly how long should I lay in the sun on the upper deck? Should I have a second serving of cake or dive with the spearfisherman? Should I do a night dive, or maybe I should wake up early and be the only one besides the captain to see the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean Wilderness. Leaving from the Santa Barbara Harbor on the Californian Riviera, the Truth Aquatics vessel was equipped for another epic journey. This was my second year on the trip, ... read more
The Wake of our Boat, Sunrise
A Forest in the Sea?

3 days in Yosemite, Summer. -Steve read more
Yosemite Falls, top to bottom
Mt. Conness and Glacier
Fields of Glory

South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago April 19th 2007

Santiago was first seen by European eyes in 1540. Northern terminus of the great Valle Central, Santiago is at once cultural, political and financial heart of Chile. Over 6 million people call Santiago their home, and even a brief visit to the city you can see why. Great weather, amazing views, restaurants, parks and museums. All the things a great city has can be found here, but with the backdrop of perfect Mediterranean weather and towering mountains. The roaring Mapocho River that runs through town is like the heart of Santiago itself, constantly in a rush to meet the future. I had 4 days here after the 9 days in Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales. A time to relax, drive to the beach and visit the Termas Colinas hot spring in the Andes. Because my ... read more
Santiago, Chile
Funicular Track
Santiago Airport, Sunrise

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine April 16th 2007

2 days left in the park- and I cant say I minded. The weather was wet, the showers all cold and I was doubting my travel plans. Knowing the gorgeous Chilean Mediterranean Climate climate link, why didn't I spend my entire vacation in the Santiago area? I could have been climbing 5000 meter mountains and glaciers link, sunning myself on the beach with beautiful Chilean girls link, dipping in hot springs and hiking to Alpine Lakes El Yeso- all under a gorgeous blue sky and full sunshine. I don't regret this trip to Torres, but I am coming back here on better terms when I take my year long trip through Chile in 2 more years. For my last day I drove to the shores of Lago Grey. Going west towards the glaciated and forested peaks, ... read more
Rocks, Rio Grey, Torres Massif
Glacial Erratic
Magically Delicious

South America » Chile » Magallanes » Torres del Paine April 13th 2007

With 3 days left in the park, I had some hard choices to make. Not hard choices like looking for a new job, breaking up with my girlfriend or buying a new car- after all I was on vacation! My choices were more along the lines of where I should hike to next, Lago Grey or Lago Nordenskjöld? I chose the latter. Salto Grande was impressive, but the short hike to the overlook puts one closer to the Cuernos del Paine and the giant massif of Cumbre Principal than anywhere else in the park. Like most National Parks less than 10% of people hike further than the major attraction, in this case Salto Grande. What awaited 30 minutes walk away from the Salto was just what I wanted, more solitude. I soon discovered I wasn't alone. ... read more
Nordenskjöld Lakeshore
Puma Snack-Guanaco Pelvis and Spine
The Rushing Torrent of Rio Paine

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